Daily Image: Turning Wrenches, 10 April 2024

Older Son turning wrenches. Shot with Nikon F2AS and Nikkor 35mm f/2D on Ilford XP2.

A few weeks ago we had a nice day and the motivation to replace the valve cover gasket on Older Son’s vehicle. I think I wrote about all of that before.

But, I made a few images with the Nikon F2AS that came to live with me and a Nikkor 35mm f/2D lens. The camera is completely mechanical. It does have an internal meter, but a battery is not required to run the camera; only the meter.

I shot the image with the 35mm probably at f/4 or so. The film stock is Ilford XP2, which is a lovely C41 process (standard color chemistry) that renders in black and white. The scan was done by the processor and seems overly contrasty to me. I’d like to redo the scan to see if I can get more tones from the negative.

Although having film processed locally is faster and more convenient, a professional laboratory should produce better results. I am planning to send film to a couple of labs, particularly color chemistry films, to see if they produce better scans. Black and white film (traditional processing) I will likely do myself. I have a film changing tent (covers the hands) that I can use to load a tank. The processing is done in the light because the tank is light tight.

I have a film scanner but could also use a digital camera to photograph frames with a light table and macro lens.

There are more experiments to do.

The day was a good day. The valve cover no longer leaks oil.

Life is good.

Eleven Years — 19 January 2024

Older Son and I were actually at the B-29 Cafe, in the same center. However, the light on the sign does not illuminate the B-29 part of the sign. Irony? Shot with the Fujifilm X100V 23mm f/2 at f/8 with the Regie’s Portra film simulation.

I woke early this morning (or late last night) and was awake for an hour or so. There is nothing unusual about that — it happens often enough. Instead of picking up my iPhone, I picked up the MacBook Pro (such a lovely size for a laptop computer!) and opened the shell. It woke immediately and a light touch of my fingertip to the sensor unlocked it.

The day had already turned and I noticed the date. When I opened my weblog page, I saw the list of On This Day entries on the left. This served as a substantial memory punch that Wife left us1 11-years ago.

That realization was not the gut punch that it was several years ago. I did the work necessary to be healed. But, I felt that cold grasp around my heart that serves as a reminder of a substantial loss. I think that is part of the suck my friend Jim referred to so many years ago.

It sucks. It will always suck. But it will suck less as time passes.

I also noted that I did not post on several of the anniversaries. I will look again in the morning to see if I posted the day after. I am not one to back date my posts. I have also been extraordinarily busy the last few years.

My 2019 post was filled with dread of Ki’s coming death. She was very sick the end of 2019 with a brain tumor and I knew she would leave soon. That was also a difficult time for me2. Ki was a strong connection to Wife because of how well Ki watched over her when she was sick. It was hard losing her, too.

But, here I am 11-years later, remembering what happened this day. It was awful saying goodbye that last time. I feel a heaviness right now as I recall those last moments, her attempt to say something, and her departure from this life. To say it is a memory that will haunt me the rest of my life is not melodramatic; it is truth.

I am so thankful we had some good months together between the time her first treatment regimen ended and the second began. I am thankful that I insisted we use that time to do those things that were important to her, not knowing what was coming but preparing nonetheless. I am thankful her family and dearest friends came to see her before the end to bring their love and positive energy to her.

I am thankful for all the years we had together, for the life we shared, for all the laughs we shared, for love we shared.

I will not spend the day in mourning. She would chastise me for that. I will, however, remember her several times this day as I go through the tasks required of me. I will be grateful for the day and for the life that we shared. I will play with The Girl and get her out for a short walk, even if the temperature is heading toward 0ºF. (Yes, it will not be a long outing!)

I am grateful. Life is good.

1I use the euphemism left us for died sometimes. I am not afraid so say/write died. It is the descriptive word and it is completely true. But, sometimes I think that a less powerful word makes the language work a little better. But the truth is that she died, just as we all do.

2Do not dare tell me she’s only a dog. That will get you punched in the face without hesitation! I will then say “That was only a love tap!”

Daily Image: 04 January 2024 — Ozark Sunrise

With a hat tip to the hundreds of photographers who shot a sunrise through an upper-story window, this one was shot with the Fujifilm X100V using Reggie’s Portra film simulation. The f/stop was f/8.

I am still in Ozark, Missouri with Older Son and DiL. I am also still quite sick with whatever this crud is that is going around.

After being down for several days, I managed to get The Girl out for a walk yesterday and got some sun. It was not an easy walk, but it was still good to get out. I am hopeful that today will bring some sun, but it is winter so it might not be sunny.

I just need to get better. My friend (and client) Carol told me it takes a couple of weeks to get through it. She suggested I get a COVID test, but I am not sure that I care what it is. I am not sick enough to go to hospital and not showing signs of a secondary infection, so I suspect I just have to let my body do its immune system thing and suffer through it.

I am enjoying my family. Despite all of us being sick (yep), we are having fun spending time together. I cannot think of a better way to spend my time than with my family.

I noticed the sunrise a day or so ago. I decided to just shoot it through the window and let the window provide a frame.

Life is good.

Boxing Day 2023

My youngest sister was born on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. Today would be her birthday, but she is long gone. She was a talented artist with the afflictions that often come from that kind of mind.

I miss you, sis. Happy Birthday!

From the Past

Wife, circa 2004, doing what she loved best… interacting with her family. Shot with my Nikon D100 and a Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8, probably wide open.

As I woke yesterday morning, the thought passed through my mind that “it was a bad week.” That made me pause for a moment and consider my inner dialogue.

“No,” I rethought, “it was a hard week.” I then nodded to myself, slipped on my moccasins, and rose to go make a coffee and run through my morning regimen.

Wife would have turned 71-years old this week. I always take a few moments on her birthday to remember her. In the evening, I lift a glass to the east (which I often do anyway) to salute her and remember our communal life. The day is always a mix of happy and sad (maybe the definition of “nostalgia”), but I am OK with that.

In addition, my maternal grandmother, “Nana,” would have been 108-years old this week. She lived to be 100-years old before she wore out and died. She was one of the sweetest people you could ever meet and complemented my grandfather well. They were good people, God-fearing, and unselfish.

It was my grandmother who took me to buy my first book. I was about five-years old. The book was a 7th grade science textbook.

Work has been challenging the last few months; Hell, the last couple of years. There were many deadlines (still a few out there), lots of pressure, and requirements to do things I have not done or not done in a long time.

Pressure and deadlines are the life of a consultant. I accept that. But there has been little room to eddy out between and it is wearing on me. In fact, I am pretty worn down at the moment — to the point of considering to chuck it all, sell everything that I cannot carry in my rig/camper, and drive off.

So, after my thought on a bad week passed and was corrected, I made my coffee and returned to find The Girl had been licking her wounded toe. I hate to leave the collar on her all the time, but she knows when I am distracted and cannot help herself but to lick the wound, stripping the scab from it and delaying the healing action that goes on under the cover of the scab.

So, the collar went back on. With the collar on, she exudes misery and is very careful to tell me just how f*($*#g miserable she really is. Yes, she works it.

So, she added a little fuel to my internal fire.

I sat at the computer and took care of those things that demanded my attention. I then dressed, removed her collar, but her tracking and control collars on, repaired the control module for her control collar (broken knob), made sure I had water and a snack, and we headed to Silver Saddle Ranch to walk.

We took an alternate route to keep her off of the access road. It is hard and rocky and hurts her foot. We took the trail to the powerline trail, walked up the hill through the mass of sand burrs, and back through the Ranch compound. It was almost a three-mile walk. The sun was good for my soul and the exercise good to wear her down.

As we approached the rig and the end of our walk, I thought “I’d like a chili dog… I’m hungry.” So, we loaded up and headed north to the Sonic where I satisfied my craving. I shared the list bite of chili dog and half of the tater tots and the last bit of my strawberry shake with her. Then we headed home — for her to rest and me to finish my work for the day.

I also had a short nap with The Girl and then loaded her back in to the rig for a grocery run. She might as well go with me as stay at home. It was an expensive run at about $300, but it had been awhile since I last went. So, it was no surprise.

I ended my day with a bowl of chicken chili (from the crockpot) and a gin and tonic. I also fed The Girl and she got a bit of meatball left over from my last Olive Garden run.

At the end of the day I was tired and having The Girl snuggling next to me was good. The day ended with me in a better headspace and grateful for the day, grateful for The Girl, and grateful that I had Wife in my life for so many years.

The capture was made almost 20-years ago with my Nikon D100 (my first dSLR), a Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 zoom, most likely at 200mm and f/2.8. She was doing what she loved best — taking care of her family.

She is most definitely missed. But, still, I am grateful. Life is good.

Happy Birthday Old Girl 2023

Family snapshot from the 1980s, probably 1987.

Wife would be 71-years old today. I would be planning to take her out to supper. Her family would call and wish her well. Her friends would call from all over the country to wish her a happy day. She would have been on the phone all day long.

She would be late to leave with me for supper. Even if I was a little frustrated, it would be OK. It was her way. We would have a good evening out and then return home to spend some time together.

I miss those days, this one in particular, but also the holidays that she so loved. This is my lot now that she is gone. It is not that I feel that awful tearing pain of grief anymore; I do not. That work is done.

But there lingers the missing of that communal life. This will never go away. Even if I could make the hole go away, I am not sure I would. It is a reflection of that part of my life and is valuable in and of itself.

I am reminded of a phrase from a song, I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all… This is a small pain and tolerable. It is a good reminder of Wife. I miss her.

I think I will open a new bottle of wine this evening and raise my glass to the east, where her ashes rest. I will say “Thank you!” and “Miss you!” as I do, then turn to sit on the sofa with The Girl, who will snuggle up against me or put her heavy head in my lap. I expect a tear will be shed before the end of the day.

Still, I remain grateful for that communal life. We had a good life together. Life is still good.

My Sick Girl

My poor girl is quite sick. She has a urinary tract infection and is being a little slow to respond to antibiotics. This on top of a rattlesnake bite a little over a week ago is a lot for her system to handle. Shot with the Sony A7Sii and a 50mm f/1.7 Zenit-M lens at f/1.7. Post-processed with Iridient Developer.

The Girl has had a tough run of luck lately. Last week she was bitten by a rattlesnake. That caused a trip to the clinic and an overnight stay. The treatment mitigated the worst of the bite. After a couple of days of recovery, she was pretty much her usual self.

Still, I limited her crazy activity for a few days. Tuesday and Wednesday we were out in the field where I directed collection of some additional topographic data for one of our projects. She seemed her normal self, and had a blast chasing the multitude of chipmunks that inhabit the area.

Thursday evening I noticed some swelling of her muzzle. I called the vet and we traveled back to Gardnerville for another check. Her blood work was good, but the vet identified a urinary tract infection. I asked that she give an injection of antibiotic to jumpstart the process and then I would administer the remainder of the round orally.

She was not a bit good yesterday. I was able to coax her to eat a couple of scrambled eggs I made for her. That got the antibiotic in. Last night I had some leftover hamburger steak and mashed potatoes, so I was able to get the next does of antibiotic in her.

She did drink some water and ask to go out to eliminate a couple of times. So we are making progress.

This morning as I readied myself to go out, she looked at me but did not leave her spot on the sofa. I drove down to Red Hut and had some food. I brought her French toast (my leftovers) and that got another dose of antibiotic in her. She also drank some water, which is good.

Then she laid her head back down to rest. She is showing little interest when I start moving around. Normally she would be a pesty-bitch and follow me everywhere in the house, underfoot, asking to go with.

Not today… she is firmly established on the sofa.

I will leave her there and pray she is better this evening. I always hated it when my kids were sick, especially when they were small and did not understand. I feel the same for my fur-children. They know they are sick and do what comes natural to them to recover. They do not understand medical treatment, but permit us to treat them. They know we love them and are caring for them.

So, I will hope for better this evening. In the meantime, I have other things to keep me busy.

1Yes, I know that my term of endearment, fur-child, is completely inaccurate. She is not human. However, we share a bond and relationship that is as strong as I have with most humans. Do not try to tell me she does not love me — I know that she does. So, leave me alone!

Home and Mending

The Girl is home from hospital after her nope-rope encounter. It’s good to have her home. Shot with a Fuji X-E4 and the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 at f/4, with the Acros film simulation.

The vet called yesterday morning about 0745h. The Girl was doing well, her numbers were fine, and she was ready to be released. I was expecting a must-sign-for delivery via FeDeX, so I had to stick around the house. I knew that as soon as I left, the delivery person would show up and I would have to go find the parcel.

So I continued to work while waiting. I heard the truck about 1330h and walked to the front door then stepped out. I signed and took delivery, dropped the carton on the kitchen table, and headed for Gardnerville. It took a half hour to get there and only a few minutes of waiting (after I paid my bill, of course). The Girl was quite happy to see me and ready to head out the door.

I received her recovery directions and pain medication and we left.

I stopped at McDonald’s because I know she like fries and I was a little hungry. She ate part of my hamburger, too.

She settled onto the bed in her normal place. Later she moved to the sofa where I sat watching videos about the Fuji X-E4, their smallest interchangeable lens camera. I have a rented unit because I want to know what all the fuss is about it.

I already have the perfect set of lenses for it, Fujinon’s wonderful compact lens series. It would make an excellent travel camera for those times I want more than a point-and-shoot1. It is inexpensive to rent, so I am doing to testing over the next week and change.

But, the focus is on The Girl. She will need a few days of rest to recover from her close encounter of the Jacob-No-Shoulders’ kind. She will get rest and lots of love. I will also be very careful with her when we are out where there can be snakes. I do not want a repeat action.

1Ha! The Fuji X100V is not just a point-and-shoot camera. It is a very competent fixed lens camera that can do a lot if the focal length is right.

Daily Image — Industar 55mm f/2.8 Zeiss Copy

After her breakfast, she kindly posed for me on the sofa while I played around with a new lens. This is the Sony A7S camera with the Russian Industar 55mm f/2.8 Zeiss copy at f/5.6 and an ISO of 1600.

A few weeks ago I bought two lenses, both are Russian copies of Zeiss optical formulas. They came from Ukraine (lots of them there) from a reputable seller. I had to order a pair of Leica mount (39mm) to Sony FE and Fuji FX mounts so I can mount these on my cameras.

This first image is of my Girl after I fed her this morning. She patiently posed for me on the sofa while I played around with the Sony A7S (Mark I) and an Industar 55mm f/2.8. I finally settled on an f-stop of f/5.6 and bumped the ISO up to 6,400 to get the shutter speed up.

I downloaded the images to my iMac and used Iridient Developer to convert the out of camera JPEG to black and white. I made a small contrast adjustment and added a bit of sharpening to the result as well.

I like the image… and not just because of the subject matter. The lens is quite sharp at f/5.6 and has good contrast. I think this lens is a keeper.

Christmas Reflections 2021

I made this capture in 2006 at the Lubbock Barnes & Noble.

On January 22, 2006, Wife and I drove over to the Lubbock Barnes & Noble for an outing. She was looking for a browse, perhaps to find a new book. I bought a cup of coffee and sat down at a table near the front of the store.

This was the old B&N on the east side of Slide Road in the strip center, before they moved to a new location. It was a store we visited often, before B&N became more of a toy store and less of a bookstore.

I sat there, enjoying my coffee and looking at a book or magazine — I do not recall which. But I had a camera with me and was always looking for a good capture.

Since my 20s (a long time ago) I have almost always had a camera at hand. In the beginning, it was a film camera. All I had at first was a 35mm film camera, so that is what I carried. It usually had black and white film in it, either Tri-X or Plus-X.

Later, the cameras became digital and smaller. On this particular day I am unsure what I was carrying. It might have been an Olympus Camedia, as they were the best prosumer camera at the time.

It doesn’t matter. What mattered was the light coming from behind me and shining on Wife’s face. I saw that light and knew it made for a good image. I grabbed up the camera, turned it on, then quickly pointed, composed, and got the shot.

Wife began her protest about having her photograph made and I just about caught the peak of the action with my informal portrait. Her expression captured (pun intended) her usual reaction to my pointing of a camera at her. (Aside: She had several other reactions as well… some not appropriate for mixed company.)

This image remains another of my favorite captures of Wife. A bit of her personality is caught in the frame and that playful protest was fun. I had a good laugh about it as did she.

I spent a bit of time this morning reflecting on the year. At the end of each year, I like to look back at the year and assess what I did well and what I did not do so well. I want to learn from the experience and make choices about how to spend my time the coming year.

I do not make resolutions. Resolutions fade away without structure to see they are implemented. Instead, I set goals and make plans to achieve those goals. I decided what habits I want to cultivate and those that I want to reduce. I decide how to structure my time so that I can make the changes that will be good for me.

And then I set out to execute those plans. I am not always successful. But I remain mindful of the goals I want to achieve.

With that, I will close this entry with a hearty Merry Christmas. I remember that we celebrate today the birth of the Christ child. It does not matter when Jesus was born; only that he was. And it only matters that what God said about him is true. I am grateful for that gift, the best of all.